Italian composer resident in the USA, who has made his name with a series of highly acclaimed operas.
Menotti was born near Lake Lugano into a prosperous and musical family, the sixth of ten children. When he entered the Milan Conservatory at the age of thirteen, he had already written two operas. In 1928 he crossed the Atlantic to study at the Curtis Institute of Music, Philadelphia, under Rosario Scalero. Amelia goes to the Ball (1936), a one-act opera buffa, was first performed there in 1937 and transferred to the Metropolitan Opera, New York, the following season with enormous success. This was the first of a long line of operatic successes for which Menotti has been his own librettist, writing generally in English.
Menotti's operas nevertheless derive from his Italian background, particularly from the works of Puccini and Mascagni. The operas are sectional, the arias connected by expressive declamation, and intimate, often of chamber proportions – Menotti himself calls them ‘plays with music’. Among the best known are The Medium (1945), of which Menotti also made a successful film version, The Telephone (1946), a short opera buffa, The Consul (1949), Amahl and the Night Visitors (1951), The Saint of Bleeker Street (1954), and The Most Important Man (1971). More recent works include St Teresa (1982) and Goya (1986). Menotti has also written symphonic and choral works, as well as librettos for operas by Samuel Barber and Lukas Foss (1922– ). His foundation and organization of the Festival of Two Worlds, at Spoleto, is aimed at bringing young artists from the New World into contact with those of the Old.